Most often in onscreen romance, it’s pretty apparent that the situation is contrived, forced, and occasionally awkward. After all, everyone knows that romance doesn’t really work the way it does in the movies, right? Even with that certainty, every now and then you’ll run across an onscreen couple that makes you wonder whether their affection reflects reality, and makes you think that maybe love really does look and feel like it does in the movies. With that in mind, we here at Goliath have rounded up 10 of the best onscreen couples we could think of, and distilled them into one list that’s full of excellent chemistry, iconic romantic moments, and even a song or two.
10. Homer and Marge (The Simpsons)
There’s little doubt that Homer and Marge Simpson are one of television history’s most adorable onscreen couples; they’ve been together for more than 25 years, and there hasn’t been a moment when it wasn’t apparent that the two were destined for each other. Who cares if they’re animated? If ever there was onscreen love, this is what it looks like (it’s gotta be love, considering all of Homer’s shenanigans Marge has had to put up with over the years). And we’re big believers that Marge and Homer would make it in the real world as well, even though it’s a certainty that Homer would’ve been fired from his position at the nuclear plant many years ago (there’s no reset button in real life, folks).
9. Seth and Summer (The O.C.)
Teen dramas have given television watchers a whole slew of excellent couples over the years, even if the genre leaves a little bit to be desired from a watchability standpoint. The best of these relationships (in our minds, anyways) and one that we legitimately believe could work in real life, is that of Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) and Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson), the mismatched duo who engage in repeated “on and off” antics over the course of the show, but ultimately wind up exactly where they belong (with each other!). Despite their rocky beginnings, Seth and Summer overcome quite a lot during The O.C.‘s four seasons, and their relationship is as heartwarming and dramatic as you might expect from young love found in a teen drama; we can’t help but love every minute of it and are firm believers that Seth and Summer’s relationship is light years ahead of the others seen on the show, specifically the one between Ben McKenzie’s Ryan and Mischa Barton’s Marissa.
8. Andy and April (Parks and Recreation)
We very easily could have slotted Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) into this list as a substitute for Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) and April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), but when given the choice between the responsible, romantic adults and the childish, ridiculous romantic non-adults, we’re most definitely going to choose the latter. Andy and April, whose spontaneous marriage in the third season of Parks and Recreation is a major turning point in both the characters’ arcs, are one of our favorite television couples of all time. Their oddball tendencies perfectly accentuate each other’s weirdness, and their steadfast refusal to grow up only makes us love their strange relationship more. Googling a “Best of Andy and April” montage is sure to leave you howling with laughter, and watching their relationship blossom over the course of the entire series will make you laugh and melt in equal measure.
7. Baby and Johnny (Dirty Dancing)
Oh lover boy! We couldn’t help but place this iconic onscreen couple on our list, as both Baby (Jennifer Grey) and Johnny (Patrick Swayze) have maintained a treasured position in contemporary culture since the release of Dirty Dancing in 1987. One of cinema’s most quoted and beloved couples (“Nobody puts Baby in a corner” has been used and abused innumerable times in pop culture for almost three decades now), Baby and Johnny’s onscreen chemistry is undeniable, and it’s most often displayed in the scenes they share dancing (usually in some sort of dirty way). A classic story of a good girl gone bad and a bad boy turned good, Dirty Dancing remains one of Hollywood’s most revered stories of romance, and for good reason; it’s quite apparent that these two young lovers had the time of their life (ha!) during their courtship.
6. Danny and Sandy (Grease)
Love’s better when you can sing about it, and we’re firm in our belief on that point. As such, it should come as no surprise that we’ve included Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and Sandy Olsen (Olivia Newton John) on this list. The protagonists of Grease, the acclaimed musical released in 1978 that has no doubt influenced millions of lives since its debut, Danny and Sandy taught youth everywhere what it meant to be mismatched high school lovers with a compulsion to break out into song when given the opportunity. Hell, if we could sing songs as catchy as “Grease Lightning” and “Summer Nights”, we’d probably break out into song more often too! Danny and Sandy, who consistently rate among the best onscreen couples in the history of cinema, are a welcome dash of old school cool and just the kind of couple you’d expect to find on a list like this.
5. Jesse and Celine (Before Sunrise Trilogy)
Even in the most authentic and realistic of films, there’s usually occurrences that require a suspension of disbelief; this pertains to onscreen relationships as well, and oftentimes the romance we see on a television or in a movie theatre doesn’t line up with our own real life experiences. Now, if there’s any film(s) that could get us to renounce what we just stated for you as fact, it’s the Before Sunrise trilogy, which includes the films Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2013). Directed by Richard Linklater (of Dazed and Confused fame), this trilogy of films depicts the relationship between Jesse (Ethan Hawke), a romantic individual masquerading as a cynic, and Celine (Julie Delpy), a young French woman he meets while travelling to Vienna. The films, which follow the characters through different stages of their relationship, are shockingly human (almost uncomfortably so), and leaves viewers enthralled with nothing but romance and conversation. A spectacular trilogy featuring one of cinema’s most endearing couples, these are must watch films for every romantic out there.
4. Harry and Sally (When Harry Met Sally)
You have to assume that a film called When Harry Met Sally might be about a couple whose names are in the title, and that happens to be the case with this 1989 film that stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan as a pair of mismatches individuals who happen to stumble into one of the most adorable onscreen relationships in the history of cinema. Forget Tom Hanks; Billy Crystal is who Meg Ryan really belongs with, people. When Harry Met Sally, which has given the romantic comedy genre more than enough tropes, clichés, and famous scenes to draw upon (the infamous “diner” scene and Billy Crystal’s cathartic speech about the nature of their relationship being two of the more readily referenced ones), was directed by acclaimed director Rob Reiner, who knows a thing or two about crafting iconic love stories for the screen (see: The Princess Bride).
3. Monica and Chandler (Friends)
Before you say anything about the “real” couple from Friends, let us just say…we know. Everyone makes a fuss about Ross and Rachel, television’s favorite “will they/won’t they” couple, but we’ve always been of the mind that Monica (Courtney Cox) and Chandler (Mathew Perry) make for both a better onscreen love story and a better onscreen couple. The duo have legitimate chemistry, and their dichotomous nature leads to enough conflict (adorable conflict, mind you) to render their relationship both nuanced and realistic. There’s a bevy of beautiful moments that occur after these two friends (pun intended) consummate their relationship while in London for Ross’s wedding to Emily (which doesn’t go as planned, of course), but some of our favorites include having Joey cover for them so as to not “burst the bubble” of their relationship too early, Chandler realizing that Monica is messy too (after discovering her secret storage closet), and Monica placing a turkey on her head so as to prevent Chandler from hating Thanksgiving even more than he already did. Ross and Rachel get all the press, but Monica and Chandler are the best couple on Friends.
2. Westley and Buttercup (The Princess Bride)
An article on romance just wouldn’t be right without speaking of The Princess Bride, a film which spends a good deal of time poking holes at romantic clichés and fairy tale genre tropes. Despite its tongue in cheek manner, The Princess Bride actually features one of the best romantic onscreen couples of all time, and of course we’re not speaking of Miracle Max and his witch (wife) Valerie. No, we’re speaking of Westley and Buttercup, the central figures of The Princess Bride whose famous kiss blows all other famous kisses out of the water (or so says our narrator, Peter Falk). Westley and Buttercup, who are reunited when the former returns from the dead as the Dread Pirate Roberts, only to be unmasked in the face of true love, are responsible for making the term “as you wish” synonymous with “I love you”, and their epic romantic adventure provides the backbone for one of history’s funniest, most self-aware, and beloved films.
1. Jim and Pam (The Office)
If there’s ever been an on-screen couple that we believe could make it in the real world, it’d be these two. After seasons of build-up and interference from others, Jim Halpert (John Krazinski) and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) finally made things work on the American version of The Office, which aired from 2005 to 2013 on NBC. Jim and Pam, whose in-office shenanigans and longing stares made for some of the best moments in a very excellent television show, are adorable in ways we can’t rightly communicate as viewers. The two lovebirds have true chemistry, leading so many people to speculate that Krazinski and Fischer were dating in real life (they were not, for the record. Krazinski is married to film star Emily Blunt, and Fischer was married to film director James Gunn before her current husband, screenwriter Lee Kirk). Excellent chemistry aside, these two take the cake for onscreen couples we wish were real, as their wholesome romantic endeavor remains one of the most authentic we’ve ever seen.